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Terrible Twos?! Books For Raising Toddlers & Older Kids

These are some of our favorite books that would be excellent choices for those currently raising (or looking forward to) toddlers and older children. They are not all specific to the commonly termed "terrible twos" (a term I really dislike by the way, and have found to be entirely unfitting for toddlers raised in a securely attached home) - but they apply to youngsters as well as older children and are books that are certain to improve the parent-child relationship and lead to a healthier, happier toddler (and eventual teen) in the process.

Kids do not just wake up one day in a different stage of development or with behavior issues. It is all a gradual process, day in and day out. Parenting matters! While it may seem that problems pop up out of nowhere, overnight, this is not the case. As the authors of these books will demonstrate, it is the secure attachment relationship that exists between a child and his/her parent(s) that will determine how toddlerhood, and the rest of his dependent life, will go.

It is crucially important to pay attention to this aspect of family life that used to be quite natural and normal - a part of human development that we never thought much about for all of human existence, yet it was taking place all the while. As our developed (Western) society started shifting to be more of a detached, individualistic 'me' vs. 'you' culture for children - and even for babies - we forgot and let go of many of the natural parenting styles that held children close, securely attached, "well behaved," securely bonded in love, healthy, and happy.

It is never too late to start implementing changes, but my hope is also that some parents who are looking ahead at their baby/toddler/teen raising years will explore some of these wise resources ahead of time. Life is much easier if peaceful parenting starts at birth.

1) Hold Onto Your Kids - especially geared toward those approaching the teen years, but it is never too early to read this book

2) The Science of Parenting - an easy, straightforward and neuro-science based book with sections applicable to babies and children of all ages

3) Why Love Matters - this book primarily focuses on the early years (first 3) because, as the author says, it is difficult to 'fix a house' that was built on a poor foundation. She is a neuroscientist and explains the many reasons that LOVE matters - not just in words, but in our actions with our babies, toddlers, and teens.

4) The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure & Confident Child

5) Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby & Young Child

6) The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart - Jan Hunt is a peaceful parenting guru ~ no matter what her critics may throw her direction, she has an intelligent, grounded response.

7) Natural Family Living - from the editors of Mothering Magazine, this book has a little something for everyone!

8) The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost - wonderful, deep, eye-opening book (a bit more challenging than Our Babies, Ourselves but along the same lines). This book is not so much a how-to or advice book, but a book of explanation - why and how the ways we parent really matter! And how the ways that WE were parented as children impact us today as adults.

9) Last Child in the Woods - a child simply cannot sit inside the 4 walls of 'home' every day all day long without outside exploration and still be expected to remain healthy and happy.

10) Sharing Nature with Children 20th Anniversary Edition

11) Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing our Children from Birth to Age Seven

12) Primal Mothering in a Modern World - one single woman's story of how she peacefully parented her children even in the midst of having nothing.

13) The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers

14) The No-Cry Nap Solution

15) How Weaning Happens - especially for the breastfeeding mother

16) Breastfeeding Older Children

17) Mothering Your Nursing Toddler

18) *Health Book* Boost Your Child's Immune System

19) *Health Book* Take Charge of Your Child's Health - this book is geared to start with infancy, but it can be useful at any time in our parenting journey

20) *Health Book* Baby Greens: A Live Food Approach for Children of All Ages - great ideas no matter what ways you tweak the recipes to fit your family's diet choices

21) Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys (for parents with boys looking ahead to the teen years)

22) Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (for parents with girls looking ahead to the teen years)

View the full collection of discipline books here.

The following books (below) are those that we have not yet reviewed here at, but they look good and are written by authors we trust. If you have read any and wish to leave your thoughts, please do!

1) Parenting for a Peaceful World

3) The No-Cry Discipline Solution

4) Connection Parenting

5) Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

6) Playful Parenting

7) The Successful Child

8) Attaching in Adoption

9) Attached at the Heart


  1. Thank you for the list:) I also dislike the term "terrible twos." I have twin two year olds and they have their ups and downs just like everyone else. I've actually been loving twos so far:)

  2. I've read some of the books listed and I'd like to add, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk." That one is great for parents of children and especially teens. Actually, it was helpful as a communication primer in general.

    One on your second list that I've read is, "The Successful Child." It has a lot of helpful tips and interesting anecdotes. The experience of the Sears' with the families they highlight provides a real credibility and their advice makes sense. I love their books.

  3. One book I have found to be EXTREMELY helpful with my two year old is Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates and Frances Ilg. It's not really a parenting book, but rather just explains what is going on developmentally with two year olds. It helps me to guide and discipline her holistically rather than focusing on the traits that are common to all two year olds. It's part of a series published in the 70s that is actually still quite relevant!

  4. I LOVE playful parenting. I have heard the "How to talk" book is fabulous as well. Going to check this out. Have you seen "Everyday Blessings - the Inner Work of Mindful Parenting"? A GREAT read! In fact, I think I am going to read it again! Thanks for all you do, Danelle!

  5. The No Cry Discipline Solution and The Discipline Book are both really good IMO.

    Another good book is Kids Are Worth It!

  6. Also Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting."

  7. I've never liked the term "Terrible Twos" and agree that parenting matters. You also list great books. But what about kids that are seemingly born "like that?" My fourth child will be two next month, and is the most intense child. Right from birth, I worried. "What is wrong with her!? Why wont she stop crying??" I have done my best to nurture her to the best of my ability- breastfeeding on demand, cosleeping 90% of the time, wearing and holding her... But she still screams until I WISH my ears would fall off.

  8. Thank you for this! I woke up early this morning on a mission to find information to help me raise my 13 month old who is developmentally advanced. I am finding challenges in parenting I didn't expect yet! I am short on time can anyone recommend 2 books that I MUST start with? I am most interested in developmental stages and peaceful discipline.

  9. Elizabeth Crary's "Without Spanking or Spoiling" and "Love and Limits" are also wonderful resources for positive, gentle parenting of older toddlers.

  10. I also find the Bates and Ilg books very helpful to understand my children's development. A bit dated on gender and discipline, but very useful and reassuring.

  11. Attached at the Heart and Connection Parenting are two of my favorite parenting books - both well worth the read. In fact, I give them to all of my friends who are new or expecting parents!

  12. wish that i can grab all this book..